Sixteen years after they first pitched the concept, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s reality competition series The Runner finally is coming to fruition with a pickup by Verizon’s recently launched free, ad-supported video platform, go90. For the latest incarnation of the reality chase, Affleck and Damon have teamed with their partners on Project Greenlight, Adaptive Studios’ Marc Joubert and Perrin Chiles, and top unscripted producer Craig Piligian of Pilgrim Media Group, a Lionsgate company. All five executive produce the series, which is slated for a launch this summer.
On The Runner, where the top prize is $1 million, one person, the chosen “Runner”, attempts to make it across the U.S. unnoticed over the course of 30 days while following clues about his or her itinerary, including mandated checkpoints. At the same time, eight two-person teams, “Chasers,” equipped with mobile devices that also receive clues, try to track the Runner’s moves and make a capture before the next checkpoint is reached. People at home can play along on go90 in real time and provide tips and information that can help capture the Runner for cash rewards. Real-time video updates are provided on go90 throughout the game, with multiple updates released each day.
‘The Runner integrates real high-stakes competition, live elements, a need for speed, and the ability to fight and persevere,” said Piligian. Added Joubert, “The Runner is our way of meeting a Millennial audience where they live – on their smartphones and on social media.”
Affleck and Damon first sold The Runner to ABC in 2000. The series was slated for a midseason launch during the 2001-2002 season but was halted in the aftermath of 9/11 when security concerns compounded the already big challenges of the complex and expensive production.
The project was revived by Yahoo in 2006 when Affleck and Damon were joined by top reality producer Mark Burnett. Financial and production considerations thwarted a green light.
Advancements in technology over the last decade are said to have contributed to The Runner‘s resurrection, making it a more feasible proposition that it was in 2000 or 2006. A reality show with a similar concept, Hunted, was ordered to series by CBS last fall. It hasn’t been scheduled but appears unlikely for a summer run, which would’ve pitted it against The Runner.
Casting for The Runner is currently underway. The project was packaged by WME.